Happy Poetry Friday! Today I’m sharing a poem from I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery (Eerdmans, 2012), written by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Michele Wood.
At the NCTE Notables session in Boston, Cynthia and I were two of the author panelists. I was not familiar with her book, and I had even walked by her signing earlier that day in a 4th-day-of-conference haze, not really registering that it was poetry or a fellow Notables recipient. I wish I had bought the book and had it signed. I just had a chance to read it, and it’s beautiful.
In an author’s note at the front, Cynthia explains in part, “The poems are written in unrhymed verse, ten lines of ten syllables, to mimic the square shape of a quilt block. To reflect the three layers of a quilt, I’ve engaged three references in each poem: a biblical or spiritual reference, a musical reference, and a sewing or fiber arts reference in addition to the imagery the poem calls for.”? Cool! I am working on two separate poetry projects right now that connect to Cynthia’s book–one overlaps in topic a bit and the other in an approach to form. So this book is extra fun for me.
Each morning after walking Little Miss
to school, we steal away beneath the oak
to piece together everything we hear.
The teacher catch us making letters in
the dirt with sticks one day. Her eyes go wide
and icy blue. She walk away. We fear’d
our backs would get the rawhide stich. Instead,
she twitch the curtain at the window, teach
her lessons loud and clear– her voice, a prayer
with wings. It give us hope; it sing us home.?
–Cynthia Grady, all rights reserved
And here’s my audio clip of me reading the poem, with a poem starter idea at the end for teachers.
Tabatha at the Opposite of Indifference?(who is an artist and will probably love Cynthia’s approach to poetry) has the Poetry Friday Roundup–enjoy!